The city has banned two encampment residents from all parks and community centres for an entire year, a move that homeless advocates say goes too far.

Police and bylaw enforcement officers showed up at encampments at Randy Padmore Park and Dufferin Grove Park this week to remove two individuals from the premises and serve them with notices banning them from any “Parks, Forestry and Recreation program, facility, or property” for one year.

In a statement provided to CP24, the city said that both individuals have been “engaging in threatening and disruptive behaviour, as well as harassment of city staff and partner agency employees.”

But the individual who was evicted from the encampment at Dufferin Grove Park told CP24 that he believes he was targeted for his role as an organizer of sorts in the encampment community.

“They are trying to scare me. Scare me from organizing,” he said. “They saw me as someone who was keeping supplies for folks who would come sometimes in the middle of the night - it could be in the pouring rain - looking for a tent or looking for a sleeping bag. I was trying to keep the encampment together.”

Over the course of the summer, the city sent dozens of bylaw officers and uniformed police officers to dismantle homeless encampments at multiple city parks at a cost of more than $800,000.

The dismantling of the encampments led to violent clashes between police and protesters and Toronto’s Ombudsman is now looking into the city’s handling of the issue.

In its statement, the city detailed a long list of allegations against each of the two individuals served trespassing notices this week.

It said that one of the individuals erected “designated storage tents in the park” and often harassed and obstructed city staff from conducting their work at the encampment locations. The city also alleged that the individual in question participated in “acts of violence and the encouragement of others to engage in said activities” while staff were attempting to enforce the parks bylaw.

Meanwhile, the list of allegations against the second individual includes using a weapon to commit physical violence against a park user, selling controlled drugs and substances in the park and threatening other encampment residents with violence.

Speaking with CP24 on Friday afternoon, city spokesperson Brad Ross said that the city did not take the issuing of the trespassing notices lightly but ultimately acted in order to protect staff.

“You know we have to say enough is enough with these two particular individuals who are frankly, obstructing our efforts to do really important work on very complex issues, working with people who are experiencing homelessness, who have significant issues themselves and just simply not allowing staff to do their jobs to the point where our occupational health and safety folks at the City of Toronto had to tell staff not to go into this particular park or that particular park when these individuals are there because it's not safe,” he said.

Lawyer says bans are ‘blatantly unconstitutional’

The legal representation for the two former encampment residents has said that both were “leaders in the community” and has questioned the reason behind their eviction, calling it “another clear illustration of the city’s attempt to criminalize the unhoused community and those who have been outspoken about the violent encampment evictions.”

But Ross said that the individuals were interfering with city workers as they attempted to engage with encampment residents and help find them housing “in a significant and sometimes criminal manner.”

“These bans from all public space not only don’t follow basic processes in Toronto’s own municipal code but are blatantly unconstitutional because of the harms they bring to individuals but also because of the punishment they are putting on people who have been very vocal advocates for their communities,” Lawyer Sima Atri, who is representing the two individuals, told CP24 earlier on Friday. “They are punishing people for basic freedoms of expression and freedom of assembly and we are hoping the city will just repeal these suspensions.”

The city has said that both individuals have 14 days to appeal the bans.